You love this time of year, because you can start going out onto the water again. Boating is something that makes you feel relaxed. You love bringing along friends and family members, so you can all hang out on the water. You can swim, fish and have a generally great time together.
One thing that you should know is that you can face a DUI for being intoxicated while driving your boat. While boaters often do drink on board, South Carolina’s laws prohibit operating sailboats, motorboats or jet skis while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
It is also against the law to use drugs or substances that cause impairment to the point that you are appreciably impaired before or during your boating activities. Be aware that the term “drugs” can include licit and illicit drugs, such as over-the-counter medications or Schedule I drugs.
What happens if you’re caught boating while intoxicated?
If you do get caught boating while intoxicated, a first offense comes with a fine of $200 and imprisonment of 48 hours or longer. You could actually go to jail for up to 30 days depending on the situation. A judge does have the right to order community service in place of imprisonment.
If this isn’t your first offense, then you should know that the fine increases to between $200 and $5,000. Additionally, you could be imprisoned for up to a year, though the court can again order community service for a period of 10 days or longer.
Third offenses are more significant, leading to fines up to $6,000 and imprisonment up to three years (but no less than 60 days). There is no option for community service listed for third offenses, but it is still something your attorney may be able to help you negotiate.
Though a boat doesn’t seem to be as dangerous as a car or truck, the reality is that you could still be badly hurt if you choose to boat while intoxicated. You could make mistakes that lead to a crash, or you could end up falling into the water and drowning. It’s smart not to drink and boat or to use drugs that may affect your ability to boat safely. If you are stopped for intoxicated boating, remember that you can talk to your attorney about different ways to fight the charges and to protect yourself against having to go to jail.